It’s another Chuckles-From-Richard-Nixon’s-Grave moment: Earlier this year we heard those belly laughs from The Other Side when the Washington Post got scooped on its very own Who Was Deep Throat? story. And now–hee, hee!–the Post is writhing in shame again, because it turns out that its very own star reporter and Watergate hero Bob Woodward knew that Valerie Plame was, well, Valerie Plame some two years before the perfidious Bush administration supposedly leaked her name and put her life in danger in supposed retaliation against her anti-Iraq War CIA-temp employee-husband Joe Wilson.

Uh-huh, two years. Kind of creates a problem for the Dem plan to use “Plamegate” to, oh, send Dick Cheny and Karl Rove to jail and bring down the Bush administration with them. So the Dems are beside themselves right now–how dare Woodward let them down?

On Sunday, Post ombudsman Deborah Howell, who admitted when she came on the job that one of her favorite comic strips was the Bush-bashing Doonesbury, gave Woodward a tongue-lashing  for failing to informs his Post bosses that he knew Plame’s name long before her supposed outing as a covert CIA employee. CNN reports:

“”He also committed another journalistic sin — commenting on National Public Radio and (CNN’s) ‘Larry King Live’ about the Plame investigation without disclosing his early knowledge of Plame’s identity,’ Howell wrote.

“In a series of television and radio interviews before publicly disclosing his involvement in the leak case, Woodward described the leak case as laughable and  [Plamegate prosecutor] Fitzgerald’s behavior as ‘disgraceful.’

“One day before Fitzgerald brought charges against Vice President Dick Cheney’s long-time chief of staff, Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, Woodward said he saw no evidence of criminal intent.”

Howell said the Post ought to be exercising more oversight on Woodward, because the Post (which has reported on Plamegate with relish) took a “hit” to its “credibility.” Right-o, and Howell has taken a hit to her objectivity. Aren’t ombuds-people supposed to be politically neutral.

The most apoplectic Woodward-basher of all so far is Boston Globe columnist James Carroll, nearly incoherent with rage:

“And why shouldn’t you be disturbed by Woodward’s fall? As Watergate was about the war in Vietnam, so the Valerie Plame affair is about the war in Iraq. Woodward turns out to have been just another embedded reporter, doing the war-work of the Bush administration while pretending to be independent of it. But, speaking generally, the press has not been independent since the traumas of the autumn of 2001. Newsrooms were themselves targeted by the anthrax killer, and the fear that paralyzed the nation was felt as much by reporters as by anyone.

“So also that season’s grief. Like frightened and heart-sick scribes looking to Marines to protect them on the battlefield, and therefore unable to write critically about their protectors, the news media, with rare exceptions, simply embraced and passed along Bush’s purposes and justifications, not matter how palpably dishonest. Judith Miller was the public captain of this enterprise, but Woodward was her secret co-captain. This time, he was his own Deep Throat.”

Woodward’s “fall,” of course, occurred only inside the heads of liberals. Meanwhile, I predict–and remember, you read it here first–that Scooter Libby walks.